It’s been four months since the national debate over women’s access to copay-free birth control and religious freedom exploded.
In February, the Obama administration confirmed its new rule requiring health insurance plans to cover contraception. And a firestorm of anti-choice rhetoric ensued across the country.
But it was a radio talk show host’s sexist remark against a Georgetown University Law student that finally struck a chord for many.
Sandra Fluke testified before a Democratic House committee in favor of the birth control benefit (after being barred from an all-male hearing on the same issue held by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA)), and host Rush Limbaugh promptly trashed her for three days on his show, eventually calling her a “slut.”
The incident triggered a public outcry against Limbaugh, even forcing him to issue a public apology. But on a larger scale, it shined a spotlight on the deep-rooted hostility towards women that continues to fuel the unprecedented assault on reproductive rights over the last couple of years.
That revelation generated heat among supporters of women’s rights, inspiring an outsized feeling of outrage across Facebook and Twitter.
Since then, Sandra has graduated from Georgetown and emerged as a hero within the feminist world—regularly speaking out in support of women’s rights, including access to reproductive health care.
On June 16, the Center for Reproductive Rights in partnership with the American Constitution Society presented Sandra with the CRR Student Policy Advocacy award in recognition of her efforts to increase women’s access to birth control.
We sat down with her to talk about life after the Limbaugh attack and the importance of women speaking out in favor of reproductive rights and sharing their personal experiences.
She says she has witnessed a new sense of urgency among pro-choice supporters, and the last couple of years of anti-woman vitriol may finally be the last straw.
“America spoke loud and clear over the last few months—everything from the Susan G. Komen situation and to what happened with me to the transvaginal ultrasound bill in Virginia,” Sandra told us. “I think there has been a clear signal that the women of America are not interested in this type of legislation. They’re interested in their government focusing on ways to protect their health, not ways to limit their access to health care.”